A Space for Meaningful, Deep Conversations – It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race
Deborah Hilke serves as Principal Legal Counsel, Employment Law at Medtronic, Inc. and is the secretary of YWCA’s board of directors. She is also the committee chair for YWCA’s signature event, It’s Time to Talk: Forums on RaceTM, which helps to break through the barriers that perpetuate racism in our community. Here, she shares some thoughts about It’s Time to Talk and how it’s helped her to reexamine how she thinks about race and practice important skills that help her work toward equity in her own life.
In 2016, I joined a new work team at It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race and was delighted that Justice Alan Page was the keynote speaker. As a lawyer, I had followed Justice Page’s career with great interest, as well as the work of his and his wife Diane’s education foundation. I hung on Justice Page’s every word and then our facilitator guided us skillfully through a discussion at our tables. I loved the combination of an inspiring speaker, an honest facilitated discussion and then having a moment to really think about what action each one of us was going to take in the coming year.
Since then, I joined the YWCA Minneapolis board and was honored to be the co-chair of the event last year and this year’s chair.
A Space for Meaningful, Deep Conversations
The biggest impact of the event is that participants are empowered to have really meaningful, deep conversations and recognize those implicit and explicit biases that we all have. It’s Time to Talk is more than learning about racism, equity and inclusion – it’s about learning new skills and committing to taking action.
“It’s Time to Talk is more than learning about racism, equity and inclusion – it’s about learning new skills and committing to taking action.”
A Keynote Speech that Inspired Me All Year
Caroline Wanga, chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of human resources at Target, was the keynote speaker last year. Her comments that “who you are is non-negotiable” and that “you can’t do everything, but you can do something” have stuck with me all year and inspired me to be more mindful about reaching out, seeking new experiences and listening to different perspectives.
New Perspectives, New Commitments
I’m very excited that this year’s speaker is Ibram X. Kendi. I’m reading his new book right now, “How to Be an Antiracist” – and I’m sure that everyone at the event this year will come away with a new perspective, just as I have with every speaker in the past. When it’s time to talk at our tables, we will practice conversation and listening skills to promote positive change – and we’ll back up these discussions with action and making commitments to challenge racial injustice. That’s what makes attending It’s Time to Talk worthwhile.